Lincoln County residents get to vote next week on whether to allow a new beef plant to stink up the neighborhood around Worthing. East Dakota Beef, founded by David Coburn of Garretson and Tyson Anderson of Storden, Minnesota, wants to build a 20,000-square-foot slaughterhouse to chop and grind 40 to 120 cattle per day. That’s small compared to the 420,000-square foot Demkota Beef in Aberdeen, which the last two years has averaged a daily slaughter of over 820 and has a maximum daily processing capacity of 1,500. East Dakota Beef originally proposed building a beef plant on the south side of Lennox, but the company changed its mind and now targets a site just north of the Sioux Falls Regional Livestock auction yard on 471st Avenue, just a mile north from the I-29/US 18 intersection and a mile south and a mile west of the center of Worthing.
Easy Interstate access, close to a sale barn—moo-moo-makers probably couldn’t ask for a better location. On May 4, the Lincoln County Commission approved rezoning the site from I-1 light industrial to I-2 general industrial for the meatpacking plant, but residents referred that decision to a vote:
“We are concerned with the future growth of the facility and some of the odors associated with the wastewater lagoons they’re going to have in and it’s located a mile up a gravel road that would need major upgrades to make it acceptable for truck traffic,” says Worthing resident Nick Abbas [Ernest Cottier, “Group of Citizens Protesting Plan to Build Meat Plant in Worthing,” KSFY, 2021.05.19].
East Dakota Beef assures its opponents (and there must be thousands: the referendum petition required 2,254 signatures from county voters; petitioners submitted 2,635 certifiable signatures out of 3,097 collected) that it won’t tear up 471st Avenue:
Other than in the case of an emergency, East Dakota Beef will impose limitations on employees, vendors, suppliers, and others to limit road usage to that portion of 471st Street between Highway 18 and 281st Street. East Dakota Beef will provide Lynn Township with adequate security in the form of a bond, or otherwise, to ensure Lynn Township and its landowners and residents are not saddled with inequitable expenses associated with that portion of 471st Street between Highway 18 and 281st Street. East Dakota Beef will coordinate with Lynn Township and other officials to ensure East Dakota Beef’s use of that portion of 471st Street between Highway 18 and 281st Street minimally impacts others in the community. Once construction of the Plant is completed, East Dakota Beef will leave 471st Street between Highway 18 and 281st Street in the same or better condition as before construction commenced. East Dakota Beef will continue working with township officials to coordinate road usage and maintenance [David H. Coburn, East Dakota Beef COO, written testimony to Lincoln County Planning and Zoning and Auditor, Application RZNE-0021-2021, 2021.04.22].
…and that its poop won’t putrefy the sweet country air of Worthing:
East Dakota Beef’s proposed facility will have a 3-acre wastewater lagoon. Critically, the Plant’s wastewater lagoon will be attached to the processing facility via a DAF unit (dissolved air flotation). A DAF system is a water treatment process that clarifies wastewaters by removing suspended matter. Once treated, wastewater will have minimal odor. The lagoon is designed to hold one million more gallons of water than the Plant will produce. Employee water usage will utilize a separate septic unit. In addition to the fact that the DAF unit’s water treatment will ensure the Plant’s wastewater lagoon produces minimal odor, East Dakota Beef’s facility has other unique features that ensure East Dakota Beef will be a good neighbor. All livestock will be stored inside the Plant upon delivery. This means there are no animals on the Site that are outside the Plant. Delivered animals will start being processed within two (2) hours of arrival at the Plant. Further, all waste products from the processing of animals will be stored in refrigerated space and regularly hauled offsite for rendering. East Dakota Beef will not render the offal which is the odor producing process of some other facilities [Coburn, 2021.04.22].
Last month Governor Kristi Noem said, “I don’t want any more packers” and accused the meat industry of “stealing from our producers.” But if Governor Noem finds more coronavirus relief money or other federal handouts to support her Meat Processing Capacity Grant Program, East Dakota Beef’s facility would qualify, as it plans to employ no more than the 60 employees that are the cap set by the grant program.
Absentee voting started June 11 and is still available at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Canton. It’s too late to register to vote in next week’s special election—that deadline was July 12, fifteen days before the July 27 special election.